We had to get up early (no problem there -- I'm still on Korea time) -- and be at St. Peter's Square no later than 7:50. We were there and ready -- cassocks and for me, zucchetto.
We waited under the sun for a while -- it was warm but not unbearable. Steve had me plied with water -- our spouses were behind us behind a barricade. There must have been 10,000 people in the square if there was one.
The Pope started by having the "Pope mobile" drive him around the square -- he blessed children, shook hands -- you name it. He was accessible and you can tell is very much loved. We spoke to two Roman Catholic Bishops who came over to greet us warmly. One other came over afterwards, and then one other. That was kind.
The "Pope mobile" made its final round around St. Peter's Square and then El Santo Padre made his way up to his chair with wild screams from the mobs of people there.
There was a reading in severeal languages, then the Pope responded with a message. The essence of the message (the full message the Pope offered in Italian) was offered in various languages.
Time came for audiences. The Roman Catholic bishops went up first -- and they all greeted him warmly, and he them. They met him up at his chair.
I cannot begin to express my feelings about this moment. Growing up as a Roman Catholic, it was always a dream to one day meet the Pope. Even as an Episcopal Bishop, I never thought I'd have this opportunity. Yet, Bishop Pierre Whalon helped make that happen. We were front row -- just being that close and hearing him would have been enough. Being able to shake his hand and tell him about a ministry we do for the poor and to share that small pin with him was a great gift to me.
People asked to have their picture taken with us -- we were a bevy of women bishops -- and something many of them had never seen before.
We then went back to our hotels to get out of our cassocks and to put our feet up for a few minutes before we headed out again.
We went for a snack/dinner and something to drink before separating for the rest of the evening.
This was a VERY full day!
Tomorrow -- the Church of St. Clement of Rome.
All I can say is, "I still can't believe I talked directly to the Pope."